Lest We Forget: ‘Guns Do Not Make a Nation Safer’



[I originally wrote this blog post on Sept. 18, 2013, a few months after the Congress failed to act on post-Sandy Hook legislation. In the US, there have been many more massacres with assault weapons since then– including the mass shooting of 50 people in an Orlando nightclub, early this morning. Instead of working to make our citizens safer by enacting common sense gun laws, the Arizona Legislature passes laws promoting the proliferation of guns of all types, everywhere, even in the Legislature. Heavy sigh. How many more people have to die before our government stands up to the NRA?]

With each massacre of innocent citizens, the demand for action on gun control by the US Congress intensifies.

After the tragic Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in December 2012,  it appeared as if the national outrage over the massacre of 20 children and 6 school staff would finally push the Congress into action, but sadly, in April 2013, the most recent attempt at common sense gun control was thwarted by a Republican Party filibuster (which included both Arizona Senators Jeff Flake and John McCain.)

This week, a lone gunman opened fire in a Washington DC naval facility, killing 12 people and injuring 8 others before being killed by authorities. Within hours of the shooting, Senator Diane Feinstein, who sponsored gun control legislation earlier this year, called on Congress to revive gun control efforts.

Serendipitously for gun control advocates, The American Journal of Medicine released Gun Ownership and Firearm-related Deaths by Drs. Sripal Bangalore and Franz Messerli today.

More Guns Don’t Make a Nation Safer

Read the details of the study after the jump and then forward it to your state legislators and your Congressional representatives.

Appearing in the October 2013 issue of the Journal, the new research study reports that countries with lower gun ownership are safer than those with higher gun ownership, debunking the widely quoted hypothesis that guns make a nation safer.

Researchers also evaluated the possible associations between gun ownership rates, mental illness, and the risk of firearm-related death by studying the data for 27 developed countries.

A popular notion in the US, where there are almost as many guns as people, is that “guns make a nation safer,” although there has been little evidence either way. Shooting sprees in Aurora, Tucson, Oak Creek, at Virginia Tech, at the Navy Yard in DC, and other locales  have demonstrated that there may be a relationship between mental illness and easy access to guns, and that lack of treatment for mental illness may be more of a pressing problem than mere availability of guns.

Ever since the second amendment stating “A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of afree State, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed” was passed in 1791, there has been a fierce debate over guns in the US. At one end is the argument that gun control laws are an infringement on the right to self-defense and on constitutional rights, and that there is no evidence that banning assault weapons would reduce crime. At the other end is the view that fewer firearms would reduce crime rates and overall lead to greater safety.

Bangalore and Messerli examined data for 27 developed countries. The gun ownership data were obtained from the Small Arms Survey, and the data for firearm-related deaths were obtained from a European detailed mortality database (World Health Organization), the National Center for Health Statistics, and others. The crime rate was used as an indicator of safety of the nation and was obtained from the United Nations Surveys of Crime Trends.

Gun Ownership and Death

“The gun ownership rate was a strong and independent predictor of firearm-related death,” says Bangalore. “Private gun ownership was highest in the US. Japan, on the other end, had an extremely low gun ownership rate.”

Similarly, South Africa (9.4 per 100,000) and the US (10.2 per 100,000) had extremely high firearm-related deaths, whereas the United Kingdom (0.25 per 100,000) had an extremely low rate of firearm-related deaths. There was a significant correlation between guns per head per country and the rate of firearm-related deaths with Japan being on one end of the spectrum and theUS being on the other. This argues against the notion of more guns translating into less crime. South Africa was the only outlier in that the observed firearms-related death rate was several times higher than expected from gun ownership.”

What Is the Role of Mental Illness?

The investigators also evaluated whether mental illness, and not merely the access to guns, is the driving force for criminal activities. They used age-standardized disability-adjusted life-year rates due to major depressive disorder per 100,000 inhabitants with data obtained from the World Health Organization database as a presumed indicator for mental illness burden in each country to assess whether there was a correlation between mental illness burden of a country and the crime rate in a country, but found no significant correlation between mental illness and crime rate.

Says Messerli and Bangalore, “Although correlation is not the same as causation, it seems conceivable that abundant gun availability facilitates firearm-related deaths. Conversely, high crime rates may instigate widespread anxiety and fear, thereby motivating people to arm themselves and give rise to increased gun ownership, which, in turn, increases availability. The resulting vicious cycle could, bit by bit, lead to the polarized status that is now the case with the US.”

They conclude that, “Regardless of exact cause and effect, the current study debunks the widely quoted hypothesis that countries with higher gun ownership are safer than those with low gun ownership.”

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12 thoughts on “Lest We Forget: ‘Guns Do Not Make a Nation Safer’”

  1. With all due respect, guns do make us safer in America, much safer. John Lott has done a very intense longitudinal analysis of concealed carry laws, county by county, year by year across America as more and more states have legalized concealed carry. This analysis reveals that counties that adopt concealed carry have a 5 and 8 percent reduction in murder and rape. This reduction also extends into mass murder.

    As concealed carry has spread across the nation, there has been a huge reduction in rape and murder. There are 9,000 fewer murders per year and 18,000 thousand fewer rapes in the United States than there were in 1990 despite a 65 million population increase and an increase of 60 million more guns in the United States. These are astonishing numbers.

    No, guns do make us safer, much safer.

    This safety is epitomized by the Orlando massacre. Omar knew he was facing defenseless victims because Florida law prohibits concealed carry in the Pulse.

    • John Lott!!!! Thank you!!!!!!!!!!!

      Just perfect!!!!!!!!!

      John Lott has no data to back up his claims. He made his numbers up from thin air.

      He said he did, then he said it was on a hard drive that crashed, then he said his dog ate it.

      What John Lott did do was use the screen name Mary Rosh to post online defending himself. He admitted it later.

      Sound like anyone you know, Falcon9?

      FYI, those gun sales? They’re all to the same people. The number of households with firearms is down, while the number of firearms is up.

      Because there are people who believe people like you and their sock puppets and are scared half to death of things that exist only in your imagination.

      • Always a sneer, very few facts. Murders are down 9,000 per year. Rapes are down 18,000 per year. Many people have run Lott’s numbers, the results don’t change when different people run them. Of the many criticisms, I noticed one who criticized him for using a normal distribution, then the critic ran the numbers with a different distribution and the reduction in rape and murder doubled.

        Law abiding citizens with guns are everywhere except not at the PULSE.

        Also, there is a 200 year old tradition of using pseudonyms to advance arguments. No problem with that unless your confidence is betrayed by the operator of the blog. Who are you? Who is Captain America? Who is Blue Meanie? By the way, how did that betrayal turn out for the Democrats?

        • Except that you and John Lott were not using pseudonyms, you were using sock-puppets.

          The definition: “A sockpuppet is an online identity used for purposes of deception. The term, a reference to the manipulation of a simple hand puppet made from a sock, originally referred to a false identity assumed by a member of an Internet community who spoke to, or about, themselves while pretending to be another person.”

          Thanks Wikipedia.

          You were using Falcon9 to say how great John Huppenthal was, and John Lott at one point even had Mary Losh say that he was the best professor she ever had.

          I do not post here saying Dave’s Pizza is the best, while being the owner of Dave’s Pizza.

          See the difference? I’m not trying to deceive anyone.

          You and John Lott use sock puppets to deceive. And that’s why you went on a crying jag on TV, because you were caught, being a creep.

          To say any stats on anything is related solely to guns is so incredibly misleading.

          There are no numbers for gun use in America because the NRA snuck a law onto the books years ago making it illegal to use government money or resources to track gun use. So any old NRA shill can come up with any old numbers they like.

          If John Lott hadn’t been so shady about “losing” his data, and hadn’t used a sock puppet, maybe he’d have some credibility.

          He, like you, does not.

          And I can’t believe I have to explain this simple stuff to a grown man.

      • Self-Reported Gun Ownership in U.S. Is Highest Since 1993

        by Lydia Saad
        Majority of men, Republicans, and Southerners report having a gun in their households
        PRINCETON, NJ — Forty-seven percent of American adults currently report that they have a gun in their home or elsewhere on their property. This is up from 41% a year ago and is the highest Gallup has recorded since 1993, albeit marginally above the 44% and 45% highs seen during that period.”

        Population up 60 million over 1993’s 260 millon. Household size has shrunk from 2.63 to 2.53 so Gun ownership has expanded from 41 million households to 54 million households.

        I wouldn’t call 13 million new households with guns “all the same people”.

        • Australia banned assault weapons in 1996. No mass shootings since.

          By your twisted more guns is more better logic, you’d be safer in Somalia, or Chicago.

          Stanford law professor John Donohue debunked Lott.

          “The totality of the evidence based on educated judgments about the best statistical models suggests that right-to-carry laws are associated with substantially higher rates” of aggravated assault, robbery, rape and murder, Donohue said in an interview with the Stanford Report.

          This is a pointless argument, you are not here to convince anyone, and this ain’t a Tea Party meeting, we know how to check facts.

          You’re here to pad your resume and get a job for the Koch Brothers, but I assure you, they value good judgement, and using sock puppets is not good judgement.

  2. this will increase gun sales though a good guy with a gun might be able to stop wayne lapierre a bad guy with a gun.

  3. bill maher tried to warn liberals. killing gays must be expunged from koran. no preaching killing gays from mosque or churches.

  4. If all those people at Pulse just were carrying concealed glocks the whole world would have been safer.
    Wayne LaPierre.

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